Chamath Palihapitiya and Dean Pearl Sullivan Fireside Chat

Chamath Palihapitiya and Dean Pearl Sullivan Fireside Chat

August 16, 2019 15 By Stanley Isaacs


good morning everyone well first of all Chamath wonderful to
see here today thank you so much for coming straight to be driving from
toronto and flying in from Silicon Valley a couple of days ago so the next
half hour so we like to talk about the amazing opportunities that you’re
offering waterloo engineering students and that includes the social capital
fellows program for co-op students and the newly expanded Palihapitiya Lau
venture creation fund we’re also very interested in hearing your thoughts
about diversity in engineering and tech sector and what makes waterloo engineering so unique and how we can solve the truly difficult problems in a world and we
have left 15 minutes or so for question answers because I know the students have
a lot of questions for you so before we do the chat I like to do a
proper job introducing you to the audience. Chamath
Palihapitiya was born in sri lanka he came to Canada as a young child and I
know he’s very smart because he chose waterloo engineering for his education he
graduated electrical engineering 1999 and it was not all study because he
found love with this very lovely lady Bridget Lau and Bridget is a graduate of
the computer engineering program he worked at an investment bank of the
school and headed down to Silicon Valley where he had leadership roles in
mayfield fund, AOL and Windham then he found himself in the little one year old
startup called facebook at facebook Chamath was a key driver of his success he was charged with increasing the user base we just off today tops about 1.7 billion active
users and that wasn’t busy enough him so he was also investing in other
startups with many of them which turn out to be very successful. In 2011 Chamath
left facebook to start social capital a venture capital firm with his wife
Bridget their mission i quote to transform society by using
technology to solve the world’s hardest problems by using people and capital to
help bring the most promising and destructive ideas worldwide for maximum
impact. social capital has been very successful. He has invested in well-known startups including slack
brilliant bustle get table sprig SurveyMonkey and Athos this year it was
ranked the top vc for having invested in companies with the highest
combined probability of Series A to B and from b to c funding and you look
down that list down large vc funds there and social capital is ranked one so
Chamath was again not busy enough so he has become the owner and the director
of the golden state warriors which were the NBA champions last year. Year before. so any any fans of the Warriors you can talk to Chamath later. simply any fans of the Calveliers can just
leave right that’s right there whatever Simply, whatever Chamath does he makes a huge impact. waterloo engineering has been extremely fortunate to his and Bridgets wonderful
support so i want to thank you for on behalf of the 62 co-op students you have
hired for your portfolio of companies for over the past two years and 45 them
have been social capital fellows which is a coveted honor so let’s talk about that now can you
tell us more about the social capital program for co-op students which you
launched here in 2014 is specifically how this one become a social capital
fellow and how would it change a student’s life when you do look to with
social fellows. i think the context of this was my experiences as a co-op I was
an academic probation after one B so you know I was a person that did
reasonably well in high school in my final year and academic probation in one
in year one and then I kind of work my way out but my work terms were my
salvation I did quite well and that’s where I
really started to try to you know I was like how do i get an outstanding how do
i get an outstanding because that’s something that I could get an
outstanding i would go to school and there are these guys in my class who are
going to get a hundred percent no matter what and so is clear that i had no
chance of being at the top academically and frankly I just couldn’t
be motivated to be to be that person anyways but in work i found a lot of
confidence the problem at the time there was like you know all the people wanted
to have one of two jobs was a Microsoft PM or working at a trading floor those were like the two most coveted
jobs and at the time I could understand why but in hindsight what I see is that
there’s frankly a lot more opportunity than just limiting people to what is
superficially obvious and so social capital fellow was just a way of
jump-starting the ability to bring the best of the waterloo co-op system
down to Silicon Valley allow them to work across a number of really
interesting emerging companies which they otherwise would not know because
and this is not in any offense anybody here but you’re not going to have the
judgment to know what companies good and so you’re just going to go to the most
obvious company you’re going to go to what facebook you’re going to go to
Google which is I think okay but you’re just going to be a cog in the wheel and
the problem with that is if you get co-opted mentally to being a cog in the
wheel you’ll always be this box checker and instead i think what you need to
have as an opportunity to to be a more important part of a company which can
only happen if the company is quite small and so in order to overcome the
psychological bias of not wanting to you know go to Facebook or Google we had to
pay more and so that’s how we said okay if we paid more than everybody else is
going to want to come here and then at least that way we can force you to go to
these smaller companies but by being at the smaller companies you probably
realize that that’s where we should probably be in the first place you
interact with people at a more granular level you will have an ability to have more impact and
then you probably have more confidence in thinking that you yourself could be
an entrepreneur because you’ll see that there’s not a lot of Romanticism there
so is about it was a bunch of things that that came into the program and i
think a year and a half or two years in I think it’s been successful it’s amazing the number of people that
have been through it so far but I think in 10 or 15 years we will have thousands
of people who will have become fellows and have worked at what will have become
some of the most interesting companies in the valley and I think that’s gonna
have a huge impact Grea. The topic of diversity it is getting a lot of
attention especially in silicon valley now here at engineering waterloo we work
extremely hard, 10 years ago the number of female students was less than
twelve percent you know for the entire enrollment this year for the first time
in the history of the faculty with nearly 30-percent of a first-year
students are female students so it’s the it takes 10 years to make change so both you and Bridget has strong
supporters of diversity so what kind of a diversity advice would you have for engineers were just starting out in
the career or just launching the first startup? I mean look I’ll just take a bigger step
back we are at a point in the world where
there has to be a broad set of voices that decide things and the reason why
that’s necessary is that in the absence of that what you have is this moment of
anger and frustration and the reason why that is happening is because there are
more people on the outside looking in there are inside at the table making
decisions and that cuts across everything and so if you if you just
think about sort of how does a society function properly it’s only going to happen when there are
people who have a broad set of views and then are forced into a room together to
figure out some common ground that’s also true and how you start great
companies it’s like you have to sort of find a way to find a commonality and
someone that is completely different from you and arbitrate a decision and so
I just don’t think this is like a checkbox it’s not a nice to have it’s
basically like how anybody really successful ultimately gets to a better
place is that they surround themselves with people that push them
intellectually and force themselves to confront different ways of thinking and
at least in every successful company that I’ve seen they found a way to do
that so you know I I would actually say like you usually who cares about
diversity I think it’s kind of stupid the whole term is stupid i think what’s
not stupid is this idea that you very inherently believe that all people are
roughly equal and that you inherently believe that independent of your
economic situation you may have actually a really good idea so can’t just be rich
people deciding for everybody else and that you believe that there are things
that are worth working on that span not just the most obvious money making
things but things that our nation today that could become really important future and that’s what that’s what i
mean by there’s a there’s a diverse way of thinking it’s an eclecticism and how
you surround yourself it’s an open mindedness two different experiences so
it’s not a checkbox you can’t have a person with the role it’s just how you
have to live you know in waterloo the biggest thing that I would say was was
the thing that I lack the most was any of that I had maybe two or three
electives my entire time here and it’s it’s limiting because there’s just so
much of the world that i didn’t understand and i would not i would not
have said that I was as open-minded as I am today and by having gone to San
Francisco which probably is the most extreme form of open-mindedness possible
i was forced to sort of confront a lot of the biases that I’ve had and what i
realize is now the people I surround myself with today are so different in
the people I surround myself earlier on and I’m so much better for it and so
there has to be mechanisms where a very young age you kind of push yourself out
of your comfort zone like you know like I remember like it had water there’s
like you know there’s like all these indian people and all they would do is
hang out with each other I just found it so stupid it’s like I
wanted that my parents should never have left sri lanka could have been as happy
as you know and it’s like what was the point and I remember when we went bridge and I
first started dating it was just so uncommon because it’s like you have this
Asian and South Asian and and now it’s much more common and so I just think
like you just have to force yourself into states of discomfort so that you
can kind of expose these boundary conditions otherwise you just are emotionally and
intellectually stunted and I think you’re never going to achieve your
potential that way you know that’s the best groups its description of diapers
the effort and are pretty old lady you know so let’s talk about another
exciting initiative you launch in $MONTH 2014 . water do it’s called the Palio
puppeteer lau fund which is the available to all forth your capstone
design students in engineering is expanded from pc now it’s available to
all students engineering now I want to thank you in bridge again your generous support because it’s going
to be a huge difference for students with startup aspirations now to recap
the venture fund has these two awards it consists of two words each 50
thousand dollars each and the given to to capstone teams and they can use the
funds within the first four months immediately after the four B term so
what prompted what prompted you and Bridget to offer these awards i think i
think the biggest thing that Canada is missing right now is a more broad-based
support of entrepreneurialism and what’s interesting is it has so many ways
relative to the United States so much more potential long-term it’s a much
more inclusive open-minded society there’s a compassionate about the future
there’s a fairness and equality that sometimes is lost in the United States
so those boundary conditions should create a much more vibrant environment
entrepreneurial ecosystem but it’s just not the case most people that want to then start
something end up moving to Silicon Valley end up moving to the US and
trying it there and part of it again goes back to the just the emotional
hierarchy that exists is very traditional it’s like you know you can’t
tell your parents i’m going to drop out of school you can tell your parents are
moving to you know someplace to start a job and so we wanted to just create a
really simple way just to alleviate a lot of that pressure so if you brand it
all of a sudden you can tell your parents yeah i just won this thing it’s
50 grand and it doesn’t matter if it was 50 grand or five grand but the point is
now you have permission that allows you to now go and be able to you know spend
a year working on an idea and you can do it with the safe harbor and so a lot of
times like you don’t have to be so super strategic and how you do it you just
have to set it up so that the really simple pressures that prevent you from
making these really important decisions in your life we make emotionally easier for you so
you know you can call yourself a social capital fellow and for all of those
people who you know would not have been allowed to move down to the 22 Silicon
Valley because your parents may have wanted you to basically go back to
wherever city or town your own find the local co-op job and stay there analysis
that you have to that because you’re a fellow and
they’ll think wow the fellow that must be important oh my gosh you’re getting
paid more similarly this is the same idea which is
that if you can give people the ability to basically like uplevel them away from
all this tactical stuff that retards risk-taking then you have the ability to
now be much more open-minded and try stuff and and I think that look it’s not
it’s not exactly the most scalable thing in the world but now you’ll have two
teams of four three or four five people at a time so you know eight to ten
people here who take the leap and it doesn’t really matter what the output of
that is it’s more important the psychological shift that happened in
those person those people’s mindsets and then the the next decision becomes that
much easier and then the next decision becomes that much easier and then if
that requires them to push back on what’s expected of them it becomes a
little easier and i think that’s that’s the most important by-product it’s great
you know it I i wish i was a 22 years old again me too this is that that you’re a very
seasoned bc you really are and you’ve done a lot to Matthew it truly one of
these superstars in the Nov seaworld Silicon Valley so I we want to start
digging into you and see whether we can get some hints what sort of technologies kept your
interest kept your interest in what what are the sectors you feel at the fertile
ground for innovation destruction that our students should begin working on so
July sixteenth 1968 a very important day all of you people should write it down that’s the day that Intel was founded
and every day since that day has been based on what Intel created which was
this notion of a cpu sisk ultimately some risk based architecture but the
entire internet trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars of value
everything that’s built on top of it deterministic software has all been
based on this very simple model of computing if this then that while blah
you know for blah blah blah that’s how write code today that’s how you define
any product experience today very deterministically you set a set of
experiences the iphone i press this button this happens i press that button
that happens right so it’s all these very defined explicit ways of behaving the problem is that we are now in the
midst of completely changing how everything around us works and we’re
shifting away from what is very deterministic software to which one is
more probabilistic software what does that mean so if you’ve heard
of this concept of machine learning or artificial intelligence what does it all
mean all it really means is we’re now writing
software that makes decisions and all of those decisions change over time the
best example of this is if you have an either an iPhone or an Android download
google photos it’s the most unbelievable example of
probabilistic software why you’ll keep taking photos and it’s so intelligent it will categorize every photo you ever
took of a stadium automatically and not just a sports stadium but a soccer
stadium football pitch when you were seated when you’re actually playing of
stadium you know of your kids playing in a gymnasium every wine bottle I’ve ever
taken a picture of all of a sudden gets auto categorized and these are all
really simple things but what’s happening underneath well it’s deciding what’s important and
it’s changing its ability to do things for you that’s very different than
traditional software so what that means is we’re now in the movement to machine
learning so code that changes itself constantly and so the notion of an
application is totally different how you interact with the internet will
be totally different and it’s going to go all the way right back down to the
physical chips and we’re going to completely rebuild the computing
infrastructure it is the most fundamentally monumental important shift
its way more important mobile is way more important social all that stuff was
very tactical it will seem very tactical this is the most important thing and so
I am concerned dude right now with ok there’s an entire
stack that was basically kicked off by Intel there will be completely different
stack that will be based around these ideas of artificial intelligence and
machine learning and we have to start at the bottom we have to start literally
right at the chipset level and completely redefine how things work and
that’s where right now I’ve been spending most of my time is building
that i’m curious also as an example like you know you would be you be shocked to
know that you know ina and I think like this is indicative of the future but if
i said to you today what percentage of you know Google’s
operations write our this kind of machine learned vs sort of more
traditional deterministic software and you wouldn’t get it right but you know
most people would say it’s like one or two or three or four percent and it’s
now almost 40% of every single compute that Google generates is this machine
learning type of software and so I think as goes google which is frankly five or
ten years ahead of everybody yes Facebook Amazon they’re just decades
ahead or a decade ahead so goes everybody else you know like g e–‘s jet
engines now we’ll just be a bunch of sensors and it will auto reconfigure
itself mid-flight based on wind patterns conditions it will dial up and down
efficiency you know all the way down to like you know how I don’t know Apple
decides like in one time you press the home button and we’ll take a picture of
the next time you press your home button it’ll actually be home the third time
you press your home button it alot your favorite app because it will figure it
out for you right so that doesn’t make sense to you now but that’s the way the
world is going to work so Google’s leading the charge a bunch of other
folks and their now there’s a handful of us now that said ok we’re going to go
right back down literally to the bare metal and rebuild the actual processing
instruction set modality so you can’t run it on cpus because there’s not
enough power in the world and there’s not enough money in the world to buy
enough of it and it’s just impossible because it will take a billion years to
to run even the most simple thing what’s interesting is google design
their own chipset to be able to do this stuff forty percent of their all computers
this machine learning stuff it runs on less than two or three
percent of their cpus because they completely rebuilt the architecture and
so now that’s going to get distracted for the rest of the world so that’s
probably the single most important machine-learning AI that that’s amazing no it has huge implications for society
yeah huge implications aside it’s great so I think we have time now to have
opened the students for question but I i do want to ask you to describe curious
you graduated 1999 you how do you think your experience here at Waterloo
engineering prepared you for successful career well I mean I I’m very on a passionate
about this but the smartest people I’ve ever spent time with were here absolutely and what’s amazing is then
when you go to the United States and you work beside all these credential people
from Stanford and Harvard and all these other places you quickly realize like
what they just did better than us was they just check boxes in high school
better than we did that’s literally it and i I just I felt
a thousand times smarter than all those people and I ran circles around them and
they all work for you know it’s the best so what’s my dick way I mean my takeaway
is basically like you know you can focus on being a box checker and live
society’s definition of what’s important or you can kind of spend time in places
like this that really are or allow you to surround yourself with truly
brilliant people but the next step is really necessary which is then you have
to then put yourself in a position where you have a supportive environment and
inclusive open-minded environment to take off different kinds of risk and
some people need a little bit more help than others and some people need
different kinds of help some people just need money other people need an excuse
for their parents and everything in between so a lot of sort of my philosophy was
formed by my personal experiences having been here in that context is I needed
more of the latter I just needed my parents to get off my back here and not
force me to take the most obvious don’t we all in and then nothing against that but you
know it’s just this is this is how especially the immigrant content that’s
how that’s how a lot of that pressure is defined so i kind of think like now one
of the most important things that we can do is sort of figure out where are these
other pockets of innovation and I think that like I said I think Canadians in
general have all of the precursors they just need a couple of structural things
that really helped accelerate it should not be the case that in order to be an
entrepreneur you have to necessarily move down to the valley go to YC or get
funded by us or you know we stumble into a couple of entrepreneurs during a 4-3
design project and give them you know what is now like 40 or 50 million
dollars that doesn’t happen right that’s too it’s too probabilistically like it’s
just not likely and so there has to be more structural
reforms that make it possible for a broader swath of people hi I’m Ryan on the nanotechnology
engineering program i’m starting a battery company for energy storage in
the grid i can ask the question that’s probably a lot of people’s mind if we
have a really great idea works when do you want to try to contact you and how
do you want us to do that i mean you you could do it anytime you think that
there’s something something important let me just talk about batteries for
second so i talked about machine learning and AI think like that’s a huge
thing another area that I think it’s like absolutely crucial for how the
world functions in the future is around climate and we’ve started to really dig
deep into this area and the first thing we did was we actually just announced in
the new york times but we were building a fleet of autonomous seafaring drones
and they’re now circumnavigating all the oceans and the reason why that’s
important is it has a massive sensor payload inside these drones and what
these drones can do is measure all the surface flux in the oceans so five to 10
feet above the water all the way down to 50 underneath the water and if if you
understand climate most the oceans are our heat sink right and so all the effects of climate
change are trapped in the 65 feet 60 feet and if you can measure it you can
build this point cloud that really understands what’s going on and it is
scary what’s going on and so then you go to ok
well what are the things now that you know that and you can forecast what what
are some periods that makes sense and I think batteries are one of these really
interesting is where whether you talk about large-scale sort of the ability to
store energy at higher efficiency or even very small practical level like you
know me you see this like Samsung Galaxy seven batteries exploding concept and
and you just think to yourself like the technology has been so bungling up until
now so i think that i think first of all I would say it’s an area that really
matters so it’s good that you guys are working on stuff like that in order for
you to really believe you’re doing something important I think you have to
have a fundamental innovation that is measurable and that you that is really
defensible and so if that’s the case then just email me but yeah I mean I
think you think we have to be able to you have to know that that’s that that
statement that you just made is beyond hyperbole so if it’s not hyperbolic and it’s
actually real then I’ll probably give you a couple million dollars before the
end of the weekend but you have to be sure its real because you can only fire that bullet
once so just give me give me like the 30 seconds why why do you think it’s real right
here yeah so we just published the paper in nature energy and we’ve proven the
concept we’ve built cells and we know that it’s you can deliver at half the
cost lithium-ion weekend last twice as long and it’s inherently safe water
based no risk of fire no risk of explosion and it can be produced a
massive scale yes so it’s it’s made from zinc which is
literally pennies hung a nanomaterial all based on and that nanomaterial you
guys created yeah and is that where the values yet Pearl was just saying that you know are
except the acceptance rate this year is basically approaching 10-percent what’s
interesting is actually if you look at like sort of like the historical
measures of success if you talk to the publisher of the US News and World
Report he tells us great story which is that he invented the university ranking
system because the the magazine was a month and a half way of running out of
money and what they realize was that they needed something to in order to
sell ads an inventory and so they invented this list they came up with
this cockamamie measuring system and they basically ranked all these American
universities about 3540 years ago and it really took off and found that people
want to advertise and fast forward now everybody basically tries to jack up
their application rates and jam down their acceptance rate so that they can
get highly placed on this US News and World Report and you think wow like you
probably think US news and world report was released for teaching about you know
wanting to really add value and insight into the educational system in fact that
nothing to do with that they just wanted to sell an ad too perky and lo and
behold everybody else 40 years later is basically in this rat race trying to get
into Harvard so I think there’s two decisions one is
do we care to play that game and the the reality is you kind of have to at some
level because it’s going to be folks like me and eventually some of these
folks like you who go off and do good things and do good work and and then
decide that you should give back meaningfully financially not just your
time but you need to also like let’s just face it like there’s no endowment
waterloo you know I mean over our lifetimes maybe we’ll give a couple
hundred million dollars to the school but that’s a drop in the bucket it’s
meaningless Harvard’s got 27 billion dollars by the time that you know in 40
years that will be sixty seventy eighty a hundred billion dollars Stanford will
have close to the same and so I think we’re in this place where water has to
make the following decisions number one play the game number two if you’re gonna
play the game when the game and so in order to win the game you basically have
to amp up the amount of advertising you do you have to amp up the ability to pay
and just cherry-pick great professors then you have to find hopefully myself and
others who do well who then are forced and compelled to give back a huge amount
of money back to the school so that you can reinvest in all of the things and
infrastructure that’s required to make the school exceptional now we don’t have
to be stanford in the sense that you don’t have to have a sprawling campus
Rodin sculptures you know you know NC to a division one long it would be nice if
you’re right you don’t have to have that no but you know that they don’t have a
quantum Research Center we do they don’t do anything in a know we do and so
there’s areas where we can allocate capital in ways that are really
intelligent and far-reaching but it has to be married to functional marketing
and I do think that we have to do it and I think we have to do a better job
because it’s still not as well known as it should be it’s well known in Silicon Valley its
well-known among tech CEOs because we all secretly know that we all come up
here it’s so funny i was with a bunch of them and it’s like you know Jeremy stop
was like I recruit up more engineers from Waterloo and I’m like how is yelp
finding a way to get up here you know okay so everybody’s up here and so
everybody strip-mining the talent but if there’s no clothes there’s no closed-loop system that then
gives credit back to that facebook covers more people from here like once I
started the co-op program at facebook it’s not more we hire more people from
water than any other school microsoft is hiring more people Google
hire more people that’s an amazing testament to the quality but it doesn’t
help the brand yeah and when the reasons is because all
the rankings qsr shanghai they’re all based on research citations and you know
unless you are standard with it you know huge research funding where status
predominantly a graduate school their undergraduate programs they have
fraction the credits so we have to strengthen our graduate school so you’re
going to apply for graduate studies after you finish alright sounds good so I do think that a
that’s what we need to do we have to really strengthen and grow up pretty
school and I think a lot of it’s also medical schools University Medical stint
ranked higher is the nature ranking in a zestimate saying it is the in the old folks we’ve been a system
don’t want to change the system and they will remain committed to using the same
metrics for you know ranking so I think we’re top 50 in the world which is
tremendous given that we’re still only 60 years not even barely 16 years old
and you know toronto is this is I mean this is probably a top-five university
in the world but i would say so Thank problem is to close the gap
between the perception and what is the reality probably so what can we quit
that I mean I would say the top five min i would put i would put high tea there’s probably one or two the i
accidentally Delhi’s for probably like I would put to the eyeties i’d probably
put beta plus and some combination of MIT Stanford something about five six
seven school in the world but it has nowhere near the credibility of those
other schools yeah not even close the only thing we
have to change you have to change the financial laws in Canada so that you
know nonprofit universities like waterloo can still have this massive
endowments and basically had people contribute back stock or whatever you
and then if that stock is valuable than it has a way to trap that value and then
invested for the future absolutely so can’t just be that you
know if we donate money it goes into e7 that’s good we’re happy about that but
you know being able to invest in the future generation rate of returns use
that excess capital this is you know these guys have solved this game so that
we should we should we should play by those rules to well you know we have the
engine indicating engine the future campaign and exactly what we’re going to
deal with what’s the future 10 years from now what engineering look like what
is what the winter look like what is universal water don’t like you really
have to think that far ahead there must be more questions yes wow this is good alright yeah that
your Colleen next to you so I’m a graduate student Chinese my name’s May
and good for you and the systems engineering research and brain computer
interface and I’m wondering what your opinions on the future of biotechnology
of bile engineering you know we’ve i’m not sure if you considers while the
bioengineering i would consider this but like we spend a bunch of time looking at
crisper I think that’s crispers basically like gene editing you can going and selectively edited out jeans
and replace them with different kinds of jeans and it just drives a very
different you can perturb your physiology so if you’re sick you can
become unsick you could grow a third eye you can do all kinds of cool stuff stuff
that you would want to do stuff that you wouldn’t want to do ethically very
ambiguous obviously sit so I’m kind of like a little bit of a skeptic almost
because I just think the morality of that is so unclear that I just think
that such a Pandora’s box and I I’m just worried about the implications of that
in terms of biotechnology i actually would go back to this first answer which
is that I think most immediate problems to chronic conditions are going to get
solved through a combination of simple hardware and some sort of AI and machine
learned way of treating a disease and i’ll give you a very specific example of
something that we’ve been working on so i started diabetes company five years
ago that now on tuesday i just we just acquired our biggest competitor and so
now we have this basically de facto monopoly where we are the only way
that’s both fda-cleared as well as clear and basically every other country in the
world to legally extract all of the data that’s on your glucometer or glucose
your your insulin pump for your cgm and so if any of you have type 1 diabetes
you know some of these terms or if you know somebody would type to you know
that there’s all this data that’s captured around how people dose and what
your blood glucose readings are so why is this interesting so for me you know
I’ve seen all these efforts to try to build a smart pancreas and it never made
any sense to me like why would you create a highly complicated biological
system like that artificially and then try to put it inside your body that’s to
me it just like it’s crazy it’s like it it’s way more difficult than it has to
be instead the solution in my opinion was if you get enough data you’ll be
able to machine learn how exactly to dose and titrate bolus specifically for
you and so now because we card this business now we have literally billions
and billions of longitudinal data points across millions of patients across how
they deal with their diabetes and so what we can now do is machine learn a
way to reactively in real-time treat you titrate you dose
you and that is now just basically a set of algorithms that talk to a little you
know cellphone chip in your next generation cgm or insulin pump / or what
have you so to me like biotechnology if I think
about like what are the long-term solutions i’m very excited about the
combination of very simple technology like this so these things are already
built their already proliferated at scale there’s no point trying to
re-engineer them for complexity but marrying them to stop that sits in the
cloud that’s highly sophisticated that’s based on massive amounts of populational
data can allow you to do things that are miraculous so at my dad died of diabetes
but he relation because what should have happened is that if he’s progressing
then what really should have happened was you know there’s a little cell phone
chip and his cgm or his insulin pump can basically speak to something in the
cloud and that cloud is our smart pancreas and all it is is basically
reacting to his physiology in real time and just perfectly titrating and dosing
and then it just stops the progression of diabetes in its tracks as an example
but you can take that and you can extend that to emphysema asthma cancer so to me
that’s the future massive amounts of data in the cloud plus very very simple
physical technology that interfaces to people but I think it’s a really an
interesting area it’s not stuff that we do a lot of just because it’s it’s so
regulatory really burdensome and it’s super expensive I think a lot of the fear is it’s just
like all of a sudden you just get judged to be a total failure but you’re right
it’s not like like the global mail publishes list of like here’s our loser
list for 2016 here all the people that tried and failed and so if you see him
punch him in the face nobody says that right and so that’s
what I’m saying it’s like there’s like there’s like there’s like all this
burden psychological burden around failure which is self-inflicted but
you’re right there is no way to speak nobody actually looks to put you down
and so it’s you really internalizing that that’s actually true and as a
result there is literally nothing to lose there’s nothing to lose all you end up
doing is self-actualizing I mean it it’s it’s crazy like it’s like you’re I mean
it’s like this is like psychological first principles and i’m not saying that
that part’s easy because then you have to basically remind yourself of that
every day because then you have all these other people who are like I have a
job at deloitte and look at my condo and you’re like I’m still poor so I get it but but you have to see past
the the superficiality of those decisions and and i’m not saying that
those are easy either like I i was no coral financial state you know I grew up
on welfare my whole life and so I was not in a position where I could not do
make that decision initially and when I went to Nesbitt Burns I was taking a job
for money and so I did it and then when I quit it was a real punch in the gut
for our family because I was the oldest kid and I was the one paying for
everything and so I’m not saying it’s easy but I didn’t have much to lose
actually so in retrospect would you have not gone there no I think everybody has to has to have
a set of experiences that get them to that point and everybody’s time horizon
will be different mark can drop out of Harvard I mean
think of how hard it is for you to drop out a Harvard like that like that’s way
harder than dropping out of I don’t know san jose state i must imagine right or
laurier you know ok it’s Harvard you know or water like
it’s like dropping a water lose heart right so he got there really early he
got there when he was 18 years old I got to my point in life when I could make a
decision like that at 23 years old some people make that decision at 38
years old I think more the question is are you giving yourself a chance to be
introspective enough to get to that place in your life where you’re willing
to take a shot at work for yourself do the things that you like independent of
how people judge you that’s a big deal no matter however that
manifests in whatever and you end up doing and that’s what i mean by box
checking its I mean like the right answer i was i was listening to this
podcast there’s a woman who is telling the story about how she was a she was
sent to Catholic school first day grade 1 she’s like oh my god don’t ever send me
to Catholic school I don’t want to be told what to do i’m going to read what i
want to read etc and the story goes full circle where she ends up teaching first
grade in Catholic school falls in love with that whole process ends up becoming
a nun and then lives out her entire life and all in this whole thing and and what
was amazing to me is like like you can make all kinds of decisions that seem
box checking but for her that was not box second that was living your truth
for other people being a teacher maybe box checking to see what I’m saying so it’s not the superficial
manifestation of what you do it’s how you got to that decision I uh I’m Richie
i’m in Computer Engineering 1a I just wonder if you have any advice for
first-year eazy-e students yeah you’re one really kicked my ass but
it was it was a really important thing for me because I i was forced to
confront the fact that i was by no means the academically the smartest person
which was important because I’d always cool loafed around through high school
thinking even though i don’t have the best parts i’m pretty sure i could get
them here i realize i am not going to get them nor am I the smartest and so
you have to find a different way of getting confidence though and i would
pick your work terms really YZ I mean we’ve had some amazing people in
like one be applying and like we’re fellows and then end up in like the most
like odd situations and it’s just like and I QC these people you like how did
that first year end up getting these jobs but because it’s so meritocratic
you know if they’re running circles around some of these 3 b’s and 4 a’s and
whatever and it’s pretty cool to see so i would say picture-picture co-op term Y
Z as well we know we have this great guy by the way he was like a was a fellow I
don’t remember what time it was and maybe it was like he was like a second
year was a fellow worked its lack like very early on like 2014 I think slack
through us worked there for a couple more terms he crushed it he got an
outstanding they gave him equity came back here with equity in slack in 2014
graduated and it’s not back at slac how sick is that that’s unbelievable it’s unbelievable I mean if you had asked mark what he
thought facebook would be he would have gotten it totally wrong so I think
there’s an honesty here that there’s a lot of lock that energy in was between
finding literally a version of a facebook which is a product in u.s.
colleges to now this global force that unites the world and so the what i mean
by this is like this idea that all of a sudden like such a super young age you
have a sense of all this stuff is kind of bullshit and it’s hindsight and it’s
romanticizing something that was frankly a lot of serendipity why that’s
important is right now I think the culture particularly in Silicon Valley
is so mercenary around talent and people people hopscotch from job to job they
try to get every single little checkbox they can now that it’s it’s a very
dangerous time in many ways because you’re much better off getting some sort
of perspective that’s it that’s not a function of time but it’s a function of
experience i look back at the years that I spent at AOL which were quite
frustrating if you thought about it because here I am languishing at a place
like a while my friends are working at Google and this and that and and it’s
all working and nothing that we were doing was working and they had equity
and we had worthless and so but I got real experience and I refined a point of
view and I really think like why can’t I do what I do it’s because I have a
extremely precise and very specific and unique world view and I got that through
those experiences so I think the idea of being a founder is kind of like that’s
not the goal it’s the byproduct of a point of view
and then the question is how do you get to a unique point of view and you get it
through experience and you can have them in totally different ways and so this
one saying like I think there’s the superficial manifestation like the
notion of being a founder today is like what yesterday you would have said is like
the notion of going and getting an MBA it’s just bullshit it doesn’t mean
anything so there’s either like you’re either
have really invented a really unique nanomaterial or you’re bullshitting you
know what I’m saying you either are really capable of designing something
really clever or you’re bullshitting you’re either really gaining perspective
because you’re doing some think super interesting at a smaller
company but you care about what they’re doing or you just go back to facebook or
you’re bullshitting you know like so you gotta this is like again I just like
your entire life is going to be based on this idea of introspection
self-actualization and just like blocking out the outside in noise
everybody is trying to put you in a box every single person is trying to figure
out a little way of just attaching a little able to you so that you become
incremental more predictable to them and so you have to find a set of experiences
that allow you to push back against that and so you should focus on those that
will come through your friends which is why you need to have an eclectic group
of friends by the time you spend here where you go
to work having the courage to do things that are a little uncomfortable for you
force you to push back on the societal infrastructure that’s telling you to do
the opposite that’s what you need to be doing that’s
the roadmap and then the output of that will be all the other stuff that that is
superficial around it maybe you do start a company maybe you join a company and
then you start a company who cares those are manifestations those are those
are again those are by-products of a path and you gotta find your own path
and have the confidence to stick to it